A Love Story To Be Shurr

Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 5:41 pm
By: Doug Lund

I don’t turn directly to the obituaries in the paper each morning..but I do tend to linger over them longer than I used to; probably because I’m astounded at the growing number of people younger than me who have met their demise.

You can learn a lot about people in the obituaries..or very little..depending on how much money the surviving families are willing to shell out for the paper to print the long version of their lost loved one’s life history.

Occasionally, there are people with the same last name appearing in the obits which usually means some sort of tragic accident has occurred. But when I saw this in last Friday’s Argus it appeared as if John and Bernita Shurr..both 95 and having spent 73 years of their life together, died because they just couldn’t go on living without each other.

shurr obit

Throughout his long life, John Shurr was proud of his Irish ancestry and loved the fact that he was born on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th, 1918.  He probably was also proud of being the heir apparent to Lone Tree, the farm homesteaded by his grandparents, near Ellsworth, Minnesota..although he may have been considering another career when after high school he enrolled in Mankato State College. It was there he met and fell in love with fellow student, Bernita Bell who was born on a farm near Walnut Grove, Minnesota about 60 miles Northeast of John also in 1918. They were married in 1940 and moved to a small house on the homestead where John continued working while he sorted out his future and Bernita continued a family tradition of teaching school that went back five generations. When World War II broke out, John wasn’t called up because as the only son, he was needed at the farm. Then in 1943, his father died suddenly..leaving no choice about what John’s lot in life would be. So, for the next 69 years he and Bernita ruled the roost that was..and is.. the Shurr family farm called “Lone Tree.”

They had two sons, George and Robert, became actively involved in their church and community, read profusely, and were loved and admired by family and friends.

When tough decisions had to be made about moving into assisted living..then to an Ellsworth nursing home, John and Bernita accepted it gracefully as long as they could be together.

Dying a week apart, then, wasn’t all that unusual.

Still, I thought, there might be something more to their story so I took a chance this past week and gave the Shurr’s son, George a call and discovered that yes, of course, there’s always more.

By all accounts, John Shurr did well in his 91 years at Lone Tree. He was a good farmer who worked hard and played hard too..especially baseball and softball in his younger days. George says his dad was a quiet, friendly and humble man who loved studying and talking about history, philosophy, religion and, of course sports..especially his beloved Minnesota  Twins and Vikings.

That's John and Bernita Shurr on the right at the wedding of their son, George to his wife Margaret in 1965

That’s John and Bernita Shurr on the right at the wedding of their son, George to his wife Margaret in 1965

“Mom, on the other hand, was one of the first ‘women’s libbers’.  She was one of the first to take up the cause of fairness for Native Americans. Her intellectual curiosity was insatiable.” George said. “She was always reading up and taking a stand on various social issues including opposition to the Vietnam War when U.S. involvement began growing during the Johnson administration.”

John and Bernita had personal reasons for concern. Their  son, Robert was high on the draft list so he chose to enlist in the U.S. Army. That was in 1969.

On April 13th  1970, Specialist 6 Robert J. Shurr was killed instantly by an enemy grenade in Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam.  He was 24.

shurr robert vietnam 1970

Robert J. Shurr  

When the news reached Lone Tree farm, Bernita was inconsolable suffering from a mixture of devastation and rage. “Eventually, George says, Dad came around to dealing with Bob’s death but I don’t think Mom ever did and, all her life, has continued to bend politician’s ears about war and other government pursuits she didn’t agree with. She really had high hopes for President Obama.”

“They’ve tried to make the best out of being off the farm and having to live in a home,” George told me. “Mom was still plenty feisty,” but when dad’s hearing aids went bad, she became frustrated when he couldn’t be her sounding board about things she’d read or was thinking and she started to drift into dementia. But she seemed to perk up some once he got the repaired hearing aids back.”

John and Bernita with two of their great grandchildren.

John and Bernita with two of their great grandchildren.

King and Queen of Valentine's Day at Parkview Manor 2012

King and Queen of Valentine’s Day at Parkview Manor 2012

This past Christmas with son George who along with his wife Margaret have been faithful visitors and helpers at the home taking care of mom and dad.

This past Christmas with son George who along with his wife Margaret have been faithful visitors and helpers at the home taking care of mom and dad.

Both John and Bernita were pretty good at Christmas but after the first of the year, it was clear that time was running out. And, so it did for John on the 14th.

I don’t know what..if anything..was said as she held his hand at the end.  I would imagine they’d talked about this very moment before.  I’d like to think it was something like, “Wait for me dear, I’ll be right behind you.”

Because it was going to take awhile for all the family members to get home, John’s funeral was delayed.  As it turns out, that was meant to be because 8 days later, Bernita joined him on the other side.

They’ll be laid to rest together following a 2:30 p.m. service on Friday January 31st at the Jurrens Funeral Home in Rock Rapids, Iowa.

I was curious about whether or not it was possible that Bernita just decided she didn’t wish to live on without John and let go. Their son, George believes it to be true.

I thought I’d ask someone who might not be so emotionally invested in the issue so I talked with Mike Werner the longtime administrator of Parkview Manor. He basically said the science says no but the romantic in him says sure..why not?

He did say this though: “Doug, did you happen to count the days both John and Bernita actually lived on this earth? They’re EXACTLY the same 95 years 9 months and 28 days.  Now what are the odds of that? That seems a little beyond coincidence doesn’t it?”


On The RAZR’s Edge

Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 4:07 pm
By: Doug Lund

My trusty old laptop is in the shop; a victim of my clumsy attempts to make her run better. A pox upon that British guy on Youtube and his quick fix video that resulted in me firing some longtime guardians he claimed were unnecessary and slowing me down. In following his instructions, I apparently left myself open to strangers who were only too happy to exploit my computer ignorance and vulnerability..leading me down dangerous paths where only the experienced should dare to venture.

"Old Faithful" I hope the injuries I caused are not mortal.

“Old Faithful” I hope the injuries I caused are not mortal.

The HP laptop was a parting gift from Keloland at my retirement 7 years ago and has served me well for both writing Lund at Large and recording Voice of Keloland assignments when we are out of town. I have left it in the capable hands of the Keloland I.T. guy in hopes it can be salvaged at least enough for me to retrieve stuff from my hard drive and maybe apologize for allowing her to be violated because of my selfish choice to seek speed over safety.

The laptop incident has not been the only sobering reminder of how little I really know about communication technology.

For the last several months it was clear that a trip to the Verizon store would be necessary. After three years, the lid on my flip phone had cracked to the point it wouldn’t stay open when answering or during a call which led to numerous unintentionally rude hang-ups on people when my hand would accidentally let go of the top causing the lid to slam shut. It was time for Linda and my free upgrades. Now, we’d been thinking about getting smart phones like most everyone else on the planet but really couldn’t justify the cost. (Double what we’re paying now) Plus, we don’t text..nor care to. And, (the main reason really) I’m afraid we might be too dumb to learn how to operate a smart phone. So, it was pretty much settled, we’ll get our new flippers and be out the door.

Two hours later, however, we were exiting the building with puzzled looks on our faces carrying a bag containing two Droid RAZR smart phones wondering aloud “what in the hell did we just do?”

I had been wooed into submission by the clever young salesman I guess.


It’s not the first time people have tried to intimidate me technologically. Newspapers had been using computers for quite a while but by the mid 1980’s everybody in TV news realized it was only a matter of time before they’d be invading our territory too. We got to see it first hand in 1987, when Dan Rather took the CBS Evening News on the road for a week of broadcasts on the farm crisis from our Keloland studios in Sioux Falls. Rather was only here a couple days before dashing back to New York but, to our good fortune, Charles Kuralt was brought in to finish out the week…which is a whole other story. The point is, we got to see, first hand, how reporters and producers utilized computers and how it would forever change the format and speed in which news is assembled and presented.

It still took a couple years before the inevitable happened; ours was to be the first local TV newsroom to bid the old typewriters adieu and become  totally computerized.  Of course, all of our younger colleagues were overtly and covertly convinced that Hemmingsen and I were too stuck in our ways to ever adapt to the new system which only made me more determined to outshine all of ‘em.  I paid close attention during our ten day orientation classes and was as ready as any of them when we hit the air live after a few test runs. Hemmingsen did too..although he refused to give up his old Olympia typewriter, keeping it under his desk for several months in case of emergency. We actually did have a couple computer malfunctions in those early days  in which the typewriters were dragged out of storage and brought brought back into temporary service. I don’t think that’s even an option today and I don’t know anyone who would have the finger strength to operate a manual typewriter or change a ribbon.

So now, I sit here and stare at this ..or one just like it.

I wonder if we'll ever be friends.

I wonder if we’ll ever be friends.

It’s been over two weeks since we got our RAZR’s..well past the point of going back on our commitment and even though I’m learning a little bit more about them every day, the process is slow and, considering the lapse in judgment that sent my laptop to the hospital, I’ve tried to be extra careful about what I touch.  The trouble is, many errors are unavoidable because my fingers are too fat or arthritic or something. Even though I widen the keyboard to maximum, a simple request for my email address comes out something like dlu@#dorkmufl .  I have sort of figured out how to avoid typing by using the voice commands for both Google and the phone but sometimes I get a rather ass-chewing electronic reply like “Are you still there?”  or “Next time try..blah blah..”   In frustration, I have..and I’m not proud of it..occasionally..talked back to my Droid using expletives that would make them think twice about asking me to narrate the Christmas Cantata at church ever again.

Well, I see a little green light flashing on my phone.  There was a time when that meant a change in weather foreseen. Now I think it means I’ve got a message of some sort. Guess I’ll turn her on and start pushing some of those tiny little icons with my Incredible Hulk hands and see what happens.

Wish me luck.

I’m Just Winging It Here

Posted: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 10:50 am
By: Doug Lund

(It should be noted that this blog, like chicken, should be taken with a grain of salt)

When you spend as much time as I do sitting in a big old recliner chair with a computer in your lap looking out the window waiting for the winter to end but not really caring all that much because you rarely venture out in the cold and snow anyway, you have lots of time to think. Today, I’ve been thinking about chickens and how I might get rich off of them in my old age just like Colonel Harland Sanders did when he started KFC at the age of 65.

Colonel Douglas. I kinda like the sound of that. I can picture it too:big guy with a goatee as white as his suit shilling fried chicken wing franchises nationwide. That’s right, its wings only baby.

wing platter

Wings are where the money is; or must be since so many places that feature them are taking flight across the country especially in Sioux Falls where in just the past couple weeks it was announced two new restaurants were opening; Buffalo Wild Wings will expand with a third location on the East Side.    Plus a franchise, new to this market called Wingstop, will be locating on Minnesota Avenue. Chicken wings are a specialty at most every sports bar in town..not to mention their popularity at parties..especially with the NFL playoffs going on and Super Bowl coming up. The National Chicken Council estimates that last year 1.25 billion chicken wings were eaten on Super Bowl Sunday, and that 23% of people who watched the game ate wings — a few, or perhaps a few dozen, each.   Of course you can’t have chicken wings without the whole chicken which got me to wondering; what are they doing with all the other truly delicious parts of the bird whose lives have been sacrificed to harvest those useless..yet tasty..limbs?  I picture that scene from “Dances with wolves” when prior to the buffalo hunt, Costner and the Sioux come across hundreds of bison carcasses rotting in the sun stripped bare by white hunters interested only in the valuable buffalo hides.

Are they finding enough outlets and uses for processed chicken meat sans wings?  Or are there piles of once prized breasts and thighs tossed out the door to become elegant dining for wild animals?    I see some fast food places offering “boneless wings!”  No such thing people. It’s probably a desperate attempt to disguise and dispose of the former prime cuts.

Let’s see, where was I?

Oh, yeah..getting rich off chickens.

I’ve done considerable research on the subject of meat efficiency ( a few Google searches) and have decided that it is quite possible to genetically engineer these birds to grow a pair…an extra pair of wings, that is. Listen, it’s already being done ON PEOPLE.


It's possible to grow a nose on a forehead.

It’s possible to grow a new nose on the forehead of this chap who desperately needs one.  Once it reaches sufficient size it will be surgically removed and implanted in the less gross  normal position.


And a replacement ear on an arm.

Or a replacement ear on this guy’s forearm.

So here’s my prototype  for a four winged chicken.


It would appear that aerodynamically, a 4 wing chicken would be no better at flying than the two wing variety.

It would appear that aerodynamically, a 4 wing chicken would be just as flight challenged as the two wing variety easing fears of them flying the coop.

Double the profits right out of the chute. Plus the PETA people will be happy (well, nothing short of global veganism will make them happy) by cutting the chicken slaughter in half. Plus, imagine the friendly bar competitions over who gets the more tender and tasty bottom wings in the basket.

I suppose I shouldn’t be letting the chicken out of the henhouse without first getting the process patented but I plan to put Hemmingsen on the case. He’s in daily contact with some of the greatest minds in agriculture who meet each afternoon at Cedrics in Hendricks, Minnesota to exercise those minds playing Jeopardy on the bar TV. I’ll bet that after a few beverages and a basket of wings, they’ll have both the genetic challenges and a marketing strategy all figured out.

Me, I’ve got a couple of white suits on order and a pretty good start on a goatee.

A rather stern blurry selfie but shows my Col Douglas Goatee progress  since the New Year.

A rather stern blurry selfie but shows my Col Douglas Goatee progress since the New Year.









Thanks For Everything Phil Everly

Posted: Monday, January 6, 2014 at 4:05 pm
By: Doug Lund

Phil Everly died this past week and I’m devastated.

There’s a medical name for what killed him but even his wife says he pretty much just smoked himself to death. I suppose we’re lucky to have had him as long as we did; 74 years..most of them puffin’ away.  In a brief statement about his younger brother, Don Everly, who lived life a lot more recklessly than Phil, said he was surprised it wasn’t him to die first.  No matter.   But if anybody deserved to keep taking deep, deep breaths so he could keep on singing those glorious high high notes, it was Phil

everly bros phil smoking

I know you’ve been reading a lot about how the Everly Brothers influenced so many of the major music icons  over the years from The Beatles to Simon and Garfunkel and just about any group that can appreciate close harmony.

I can’t speak for anyone else but myself and the reason I was so crushed at the news of Phil’s passing is because the Everly Brothers are responsible in a big way for…well, just about every positive thing in my professional career both musically and in broadcasting.   Wow..you say, that’s a bit of a stretch isn’t it Doug?

Well, let me try to explain.

I remember exactly where I was the first time I heard the Everly Brothers sing; riding in the front seat of our 1953 Mercury with my dad at the wheel and me fiddling with the radio. It must have been in 1957  because the song that came on was their first hit; “Wake up little Susie” and even though I was just a kid of 11, my jaw dropped. I loved everything about what I was hearing; the words, melody, guitars and especially those voices in tight harmony. We didn’t have much of a phonograph at home, but I managed to get that 45 recording on the Cadence label and play it over and over again until the needle had practically ground a rut through those remarkable voices.  Like all kids in the fifties, my cousin, Lawrence (Grouse) and I both loved rock and roll and we were big fans of Elvis (of course) Buddy Holly (him more than me) Bill Haley, Little Richard and most of the other rising stars. Other than church choir, though, we didn’t do much singing together. Baseball was our primary preoccupation. But when we heard the Everly Brothers Grouse and I looked at each other and said..”That’s Us!”

We managed to talk our parents into spending money they didn’t have so we could buy guitars and amplifiers. We each had  relatives who knew how to play so whenever possible, we’d glom onto them to show us chords and techniques..soaking up everything they showed us like a couple of star struck sponges. Whatever other money we could scrape together was spent on the latest Everly Brothers album and then practice, practice and more practice learning the chords and the harmonies exactly like..or as close to the record as possible.

That's Grouse on the left, me on the right and my cousin, Cliff Jacobson teaching us a few guitar chords on Grouse's new Fender in 1960. Cliff could play just about any musical instrument.

That’s Grouse on the left, me on the right and my cousin, Cliff Jacobson teaching us a few guitar chords on Grouse’s new Fender in 1960. Cliff could play just about any musical instrument.

We truly believed that as cousins we, like the Everlys, were genetically predisposed to have identical musical ears and a natural synchronized phrasing ability. In retrospect, I’m not so sure if that’s true. Our similarity in sound to the famous duo was more likely due to the hours upon hours spent listening to those recordings. Even falling asleep to them as Grouse and I spent countless overnights at each others houses..collapsing hoarse and exhausted from all the practice.

You can bet were listening to an Everly Brothers song trying to figure out the chords. We got most of their stuff.

You can bet we were listening to an Everly Brothers song trying to figure out the chords. We got most of their stuff.

It’s here where my chronology gets fuzzy but, armed with about three Everly Brothers songs, Grouse and I entered a local talent contest. I’m not sure if it was Oh, Oh, Claudette or “I feel a brand new heartache comin’ on” that swayed the judges  but we won the thing and then another. That led to performances at Farmers Union meetings, house parties, wedding and anniversary receptions and several other gigs. By the time we got into high school, Grouse and I had managed to form an actual band with bass and drums and were playing real dance jobs..including our own Sweetheart Ball at the Volga gym. We enjoyed a limited amount of popularity among our classmates..not because of our grades or athletic prowace but in the eyes of our peers we were  the only rock and rollers in school and had the tall hair and swagger to prove it.

An early shot of Grouse (left) and me singing a couple Everly Brothers songs in the Volga school gym. It might have even been the talent show but I think that was on stage. This is in front of the stage.

An early shot of Grouse (left) and me singing a couple Everly Brothers songs in the Volga school gym. It might have even been the talent show but I think that was on stage. This is in front of the stage.

We played together in “The Fairlanes” “The Couriers” and “Kracker and the Krumbs” (silly attempt at trying to remain relevant) Eventually, Grouse went into the Army and I got married. We’ve both kept involved in bands through the years (Grouse was inducted into the South Dakota Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Scotty Lee and the Stingrays in 2012) and we still love performing on stage. Sadly, though, we are no longer able to belt out all those powerful Everly Brothers songs we did to perfection so long ago. I couldn’t hit Phil’s glorious high harmony notes again if my life depended on it.

Everly it's everly time album

But, oh, how I thank you Phil and brother Don for opening my eyes and ears to your magical music and daring me to dream, dream, dream.  Because of you I know the joy of performing in a band and the thrill of  entertaining an audience which has helped immeasurably to give me confidence not only on stage but  in all walks of life..including and especially in front of a camera on TV.

Because of you I know the addiction of applause.

Rest In Peace and “Harmony.”

The Sound Of Silence

Posted: Sunday, December 29, 2013 at 12:27 pm
By: Doug Lund

Tick tock, tick, tock.

It’s been over a week since I’ve been able to hear that familiar sound coming from our old Regulator wind-up clock that my dad found and restored so many years ago which hangs on our kitchen wall.xmas 2013 042


I must say, the silence is deafening; something Linda and I will have to get used to again after the post Christmas exodus of our children and grandchildren who have all safely returned to their far away locations in Arizona, California and Nebraska. They have provided us with a noisy but delightful diversion to our normal routine.  It really began when everybody arrived for our traditional ham supper and gift exchange on Christmas Eve.  Ella, age 8 and Zoey age 12 are the only real “kids” remaining in our family who still might appreciate something besides clothes, gift cards or cash so most of the actual presents under the tree on Christmas Eve are for them. It’s still a joy to watch them open and react to each one; sometimes needing to be reminded by mom, “Now what do you say?”  And a meek reply, “Thank you.”

Zoey and Ella.  Jolly little elves.

Zoey and Ella. Jolly little elves.

Zoey wanted this bow and arrow. Even though it was Nerf..everybody had to warn her not to shoot her eye out.

Zoey wanted this bow and arrow. Even though it was Nerf..everybody had to warn her not to shoot her eye out.

Ella must have some of grandpa's appreciation for Red Green because she wanted and received a whole bunch of decorative duct tape.

Ella must have some of grandpa’s appreciation for Red Green because she wanted and received a whole bunch of decorative duct tape.

Ella is, to put it mildly, a bit of a livewire. She’s incredibly creative and always leaves us several samples of her creativity for display on our refrigerator door. It’s a challenge, though, to find something that will hold her interest for very long..that is, until her Uncle James showed her how to braid a lanyard. James has always been great with kids and patiently guided Ella past her initial frustrations until she had it down and before long had graduated to more complicated patterns. We were all just amazed that Ella could be so transfixed by something that to most of us would seem tedious and mundane.  But James knows..just like my mom and every other person who has ever crocheted or knitted or weaved..developing those skills can not only be therapeutic but relaxing and artistically challenging. Just what the Ella ordered.

On Thursday, I asked Zoey if she brought her Viola along and, if so, would be willing to give grandma and me a concert. The answer to both was yes and it was wonderful to see how she held her brand new instrument (upgraded from the child size) with such poise; how she drew her bow across the strings with confidence and was rewarded with pure bold notes..a far cry from the timid little scratchy sounds that occasionally slipped out at her first grandparent command performance.

Zoey’s concert was interrupted near the conclusion by a phone call. I had forgotten that it was Thursday: time for me to be on the radio.  I’ve become a regular on Grant Peterson’s Great Afternoon Smorgasbord Radio Show on KBRK ever since Grant suffered a stroke last April and Radio legend and rodeo announcing icon, Jim Thompson, has been  filling in until Grant’s return. Anyway, Jim..or his colleague Trinity..call me up at 3:30 p.m. on Thursdays and we just chat on the air for 15 minutes about most anything from my years at Keloland to my blog or anything that comes to mind. Well, what came to mind last Thursday was Zoey’s private concert that got cut a bit short. Jim says, we can’t have that…hold the phone up and have her play a number for our listeners. So that’s how Zoey Josephine Moser came to have her rendition of “Up on the housetop” heard…not only on the air over KBRK radio in Brookings, South Dakota but streamed around the world via internet.

Miss Z.J. Moser   Violist heard on radio locally and worldwide.

Miss Z.J. Moser
Violist heard on radio locally and worldwide.

Tick, tock, tick tock.

I already miss sitting here in my big chair just listening to our adult kids around the table talking and laughing about the things they did and the people they remember growing up in this neighborhood. Linda and I both absolutely love it when they find humor in what probably could be perceived as our rather dysfunctional family.  None of it has ever bothered either of us.

The only thing I don’t like about my family is losing 20 consecutive games of “Bananagrams” to them. To make matters worse, I think James and Suzan actually delayed saying “Bananas” once or twice in order to give me time to declare victory. Damn letter Q.

Happy New Year from our too quiet little house to yours

My Favorite Christmas

Posted: Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 9:16 am
By: Doug Lund

As with many regular series, Lund at Large has taken a week off for the Holidays but I’ve brought back a personal favorite and included updates since December 24th 2013 is a very special anniversary for Linda and Me. We both send all of you our wish for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

As I close in on my 68th Christmas, I got to thinking about which ones have been the most memorable.

The first Christmas I have any recollection of at all was in 1949 when mom brought home a new baby brother from the hospital. At the time, I would have preferred more presents but, as it turned out, he was an okay gift.

The year I got a ukulele was a wonderful Christmas. My cousin, Cliff, showed me how to tune it (“my dog has fleas” C.G.E.A.) and to play a few chords. I played those chords for two days and about drove my family nuts but it turned out to be the beginning of a musical career that continues to this day.

One of the saddest Christmases was in 1963..just a month after President Kennedy was assassinated. On Christmas Eve, one of my uncles insisted on playing a phonograph record he’d just bought of Kennedy’s most memorable speeches with the sound track from “Camelot” playing in the background. It was too much and I went for a walk.

In the late 60’s it was a delight to watch my two little girls experience the joys of Christmas..only, a few years later, to see sadness, disappointment and fear on their faces when their mother and I split up.

Another marriage that began with promise, high hopes, and a few joyful Christmases, ended with a sour separation and divorce. That’s when I vowed never to marry again. I was just no good at it.  Then I met Linda..a recently divorced mother of three who lived in my neighborhood. We got to be friends; sitting outside for hours in the summertime drinking wine and talking.

She had pretty much reached the same conclusion as I; that another marriage just wasn’t in the cards. As our relationship grew and we knew it was real, we talked about getting married but agreed we would wait until all the children were out of high school..at least five years..maybe more.

This went on for 3 years until it reached the point that all five of our kids were dropping hints about moving this thing along already.

So, in December of 1983 when Linda was off shopping, I cornered Brenda, James and Christy and told them what they already knew; that I loved their mother, would never do anything to hurt her and wanted their permission to propose marriage.

Well, they each started laughing, gave me a hug and said, “It’s about time!”  Three down, two to go.  After all I’d put them through with two previous failures, I figured my girls, Suzan and Patty, could be a tougher sell.  But, as usual, I was wrong.  While trying to find the right words and give assurances, I could see both my daughter’s eyes fill with tears. As the three of us embraced, they said, “Dad, we just want you to be happy. Besides, I think we love Linda about as much as you do.”

So the big surprise was set.  The seven of us, and grandbaby Tara, would have Christmas Eve dinner at my house..after which I would say “How about some ice for dessert?” At that point, I’d bring out the modest diamond ring I’d bought, drop to my knee and ask Linda to marry me. Throughout dinner, I was sure the kids would blow it because they kept staring at the both of us and smiling.  But it came as a total sweet surprise to Linda and once she saw everyone around the table was in complete agreement and shedding tears of joy, she said “Yes!”

Here's everyone that took part in that intervention-type proposal that Christmas Eve. (L to R)    Tara, Brenda, Doug, Linda, Suzan, Patty, Christy and James in 1986.

Here’s everyone that took part in that intervention-type proposal on Christmas Eve a couple years before this photo was taken. (L to R) Tara, Brenda, Doug, Linda, Suzan, Patty, Christy and James.

There have been some wonderful Christmases since then as our combined families have continued to grow. But that night, 30 years ago, with all of us around a candle-lit Holiday table, will always be the happiest and most memorable Christmas of my life.

Merry Christmas from The Lunds.

lund family 2013

Patty, Doug, Christy, James, Brenda, Saint Linda (with halo) and Suzan  Christmas Eve 2013.

It’s Christmas, Give Her A Break.

Posted: Tuesday, December 17, 2013 at 11:55 am
By: Doug Lund

The aroma wafting from the kitchen of our humble little abode is almost as intoxicating as the screwdriver I’m enjoying whilst sitting at my man cave computer. (Why did I write whilst? I never use that pompous-sounding old English version of “while.”  Perhaps I’ve OD’d on Charles Dickens this holiday season. Nah, you can never overdose on “A Christmas Carol.” I love that story. The real challenge, I suppose, is to make a game out of which version is your favorite interpretation of this classic.  I’ve seen them all many times and, while ((whilst))I appreciate the early film versions: Reginald Owen,1938, it’s hard to watch early 20th century special effects through 21st century eyes. I wasn’t big on the cartoon versions..Magoo or Muppet. The musical versions were okay but preferred Kelsey Grammar to Albert Finney.  I hated “Scrooged” with  Bill Murray.

As for my all time favorite? It’s a toss up between George C. Scott and Patrick Stewart..but I lean toward Captain Picard. The role calls for a real Brit and, even though I never pictured Scrooge as bald, I felt Stewart’s transformation was the most realistic.)

My favorite Scrooge. Yours?

My favorite Scrooge. Yours?

Where was I? Oh, yeah. The house smells great because Linda is bustling around the kitchen baking cookies with delicious Rolo candies in the center,  little loaves of luscious lemon and apple flavored breads which will find there way to our neighbor’s front doors. She’s also been mixing up her better than average giant roaster pan filled with Chex Mix that is heavy on the cashew nuts so people won’t have to contaminate the whole batch digging with their hands looking for them to pick out and eat.  She’s also about to start making her famous Linda Lee brand Jams and Jellys which will also be included in her holiday gift packs.

She’s doing all this work while suffering from a giant pain in the  a**.  Now, I know your first thought is that would be ME..the husband. But, in this case it’s not..at least not exclusively,

You see, we have started a new holiday tradition here at the Lund’s; we’re calling it, Linda’s Limbs…which one will she damage this Christmas ? Last year she suffered a mysterious stress fracture of her foot which resulted in her going through the entire winter confined to a plastic medical boot which didn’t heal until mid summer when she could finally wear her old shoes again. She has no idea what happened to cause the fracture. Hence the mystery.

No mystery this year, though. Two weeks ago, after returning home from a pleasant night out with our friends, Joanie and Denny, Linda remembered it was Wednesday and took it upon herself to set the garbage cans out for Thursday morning pick-up. Why, you say, was SHE taking out the garbage? (See last week’s blog)  Unbeknownst to me, in the process of setting out one of the trash barrels, Linda’s feet came upon a patch of ice (see last week’s blog) and she went down like Rudolph in history. She didn’t mention anything to me about it until the next day and, other than being a little stiff, wasn’t in any serious pain. A week and a half went buy and, instead of getting better, poor Linda could hardly get up; the pain being confined mostly to one side of her…err ummm..how do I put this delicately? Derriere. Tylenol offered some relief but by Monday it was clear that a doctor visit was necessary.

You meet some very interesting people in the Orthopedic Fast Track..an ER designed for folks who, like Linda, lose battles with slippery surfaces this time of year. Anyway, after an X-ray and thorough examination, nothing is broken except Linda’s heart at having to play hurt again when all the kids are home for Christmas. She’s on a combination pain pill muscle relaxer which has given her enough relief to do one of the things she really loves; the aforementioned holiday baking.

Linda opted not to have her picture included with her baked goods..fearing, I suppose, I'd attempt to get a shot of the injured area which, I'm pretty sure I would not do.

Linda opted not to have her picture included with her baked goods..fearing, I suppose, I’d attempt to get a shot of the injured area which, I’m pretty sure I would not do.

Me, I’m going to keep a close eye on the garbage can levels and remember to take them out on Wednesday.

Oh, one other thing. Steve Hemmingsen and I are getting back together. Okay, just for one night we’re going to be guests at the Old Courthouse Museum on Thursday evening December 19th to share some memories of our years at Keloland Television. It will include a video presentation and be part of the Minnehaha County Historical Society meeting at which all are welcome. No charge..7pm start time. Should be fun and hope to see a few of you there.

The Price Of Procrastination

Posted: Monday, December 9, 2013 at 1:59 am
By: Doug Lund

I suppose I shouldn’t use Lund at Large as a vehicle for confessing my shortcomings, but I’m Lutheran and sometimes we just need to get a few things out on the table without bothering the minister.  Don’t worry, I’m nearly 68 years old and there’s nothing too saucy about my existence that would require an intervention by the church council or oil anointing of any kind. No, my primary problem is, and pretty much always has been, procrastination and the trouble it gets me into.  I could run for office and feel right at home, I suppose.


I have a rich history of stories involving  the use of  short cuts in order to cover my procrastinating tendencies.  My kids don’t mind sharing those stories at family gatherings which always brings loads of laughter and,I admit, a smile from me too..even though they were not all that funny at the time. Like when I brought home a bunch of dried corn on the cob to feed the squirrels in our backyard. I needed to drill a hole through the middle of each cob in order to attach them to the tree for  maximum viewing enjoyment.  Rather than take the time to set up a vice, I held the corn in my left hand banking on my reflexes to avoid any mishaps. But one ear was a little flimsy and I would have crucified myself had my leather glove not tangled up the power drill bit long enough for me to let go. There was also the time I didn’t figure it necessary to turn off the electricity to the whole house in order to free a broken plug from a kitchen wall socket with a screwdriver.  Whenever we watch the movie “A Christmas Story” together on TV and they come to the scene where the old man overloads the outlet while plugging in the Christmas tree sending sparks flying and the  smell of ozone into the air..my kids, who witnessed my own close call with electrocution, look at me and smile.

And so, it came to pass, that when it snowed earlier this week, I was not going to be the last guy in the neighborhood to fire up the blower. No sir..as soon as there was a break on the weather radar screen..I was heading out.  Now,  I had meant to change the oil in my now aging snow thrower before winter but put it off. I hope it’s not dangerously low. It seemed fine; a little dark but fine.  I meant to fill the gas can after the last mowing too. Oops.  There’s still some in the snow blower from last winter maybe it’ll be enough to get me through.  Now, this is the part where everything is supposed to…and usually does..go haywire. .but nothing did!  Thanks to the electric starter, it took off like a champ and I finished in less than an hour..even did my next door neighbor’s. So, it was with a bit of a swagger in my step that I entered the back door and with a manly satisfied lion-like roar demanded  “coffee woman.”  I think Linda said something like “Settle down there Simba. I just did the kitchen floor so please leave your parka and wet shoes in the garage.” Okay, so my pride was a bit shaken but I could find solace in my man cave where the computer and window to the outside world live. Big disappointment, though.  It had started snowing again..even heavier than before and the Keloland Radar showed a new swath of white moving into Sioux Falls.

See, I thought, being the early bird is for the birds. You won’t see me out there again until the snow is done and the street is cleared. If I need to get out, I can easily use the big red Lincoln to  blast my way through the winrow left by the city plow; one withOut a snow gate, which is exactly what I did.. making trips to the barber, grocery store and gas station..including fuel for the snowblower. But that’s when the temperature dropped like the Times Square ball on New Year’s Eve. There was no way I was going outside to finish the snowblowing when there was a good chance of me perishing..frozen solid..right in the middle of an auger spout crank.

It’s supposed to warm up some on Sunday, I said to Linda, I’ll finish then.

That was Saturday. “Don’t we have tickets for that Gordon Mote concert tonight?” she asked. Since It’s a Christian show, I refrained from saying the word that first came into my brain, the one that seems most satisfying.  So, when 5:30 rolled around, we were bundled up and ready. I’ll go warm up Big Red, I said. But when I opened Red’s door, my heart sank. No Interior Lights..which can only mean one thing; someone left a light on and the battery was  as dead as Paula Deen’s TV cooking career. Oh, man what now? Well, the Camaro is sitting over there.It hasn’t been run in a while..sure hope she starts. I hate driving her in the wintertime because she doesn’t handle snow well. But she roared to life and I cranked the heater on full.  Linda had to carry a flashlight into the garage because..well, I still haven’t replaced those burned out bulbs in the ceiling . Procrastination penance. As she got into the Camaro, I decided I better hook Big Red’s battery up to the charger. But when I opened the car door to release the hood…POP..the interior lights came on big and bright. The battery wasn’t dead after all. The cold must have caused the switch that controls the inside lights to stick.  Well, that’s a relief, I guess. Oh, well, the Camaro’s  all warmed up so we might as well take it and go.  As I’m backing out Linda says, careful a car is coming . So i stopped on the driveway but after it passed, I’d forgotten about the big snowbank behind me and had zero momentum to break through.  With my little car’s extreme low clearance I came to a crunching halt totally hung up.   Snow had gotten so deep under the axle that the rear tires were clear off the ground. The only thing they grabbed when I revved the engine was air.  Once again, my vocabulary was hardly fitting for a man headed to a Christian concert. We left the Camaro sitting there like a lump jumped in Big Red and high tailed it to the show in time to find somebody else in our assigned seats.

The seating issue was quickly resolved without any punches thrown..even though I’m sure I could have taken that seven year old kid. The concert was..well, just great and worth the headaches to get there.

Sunday morning it did warm up above zero and, determined to procrastinate no more, I was among the early ones in the neighborhood out there directing cascades of snow into proper piles with my machine; first doing the walks then the driveway carefully working around the Camaro which was still sitting there; a cruel reminder of my stupidity from the night before.

Hangin' high with a fresh coat of snow.

Hangin’ high with a fresh coat of snow.

I had no idea how I would get her out by myself but then a Christmas miracle. My three next door neighbors all came over at the same time armed with smiles, shovels, a pickup and a rope. Within just a couple minutes the car was loosened from its frozen bonds and I was able to put her back in the garage where she belongs until the next emergency.

Sometimes we do get by with a little help from our friends "and" neighbors.

Sometimes we do get by with a little help from our friends “and” neighbors.

God really is good, I thought.  And I’m really going to try to be better..not only about this horrible habit of putting things off but in the language I use when things go wrong.

That lasted until the fourth quarter of the Vikings game.

Illuminating The Christmas Spirit

Posted: Tuesday, December 3, 2013 at 11:58 am
By: Doug Lund

Tried to jump start my Christmas Spirit last night by taking my bride for a ride to check out the lights; especially those at Falls Park.  I know Mayor Dave Munson took a lot of heat for his persistence in developing the Phillips to the Falls project but, honestly, as one who remembers when that area was nothing but a thicket with greasy old buildings surrounding our still impressive but much neglected Big Sioux River Falls, to see its transformation is pure joy and worth every penny spent on rehabbing the area.

Keloland Photo

Keloland Photo

It is wonder to behold any time of year but especially around Christmas when the park trees are aglow with tens of thousands of bluish white lights while many of the conifers are illuminated in red or green. As Linda and I, along with hundreds of others, drove slowly through this glittering wonderland, we both said simultaneously, “classy.”

Oh, I’m sure there are those who grumble about how that money could have gone for more practical things like cutting taxes or upgrading sewer pipes.. something less flashy. But, I for one am proud that my town has not always pursued the strictly sensible approach to things. The Washington Pavilion, for example. Oh, man I remember reporting so many news stories about the heated battles between those for and against the Pavilion/Convention center projects yet when they were finally completed, one couldn’t help but be in awe at the beauty of the place..especially the Great Hall. Not only was it a sight to behold but it didn’t take long for audiences and performers to truly appreciate the acoustical quality of the room be they for theatrical or musical performances. It was so cool to have an I-Max theater, science center, and art galleries right there downtown. Not to mention, a brand new convention center cleverly attached to the Arena with banquet facilities and adequate room to finally accommodate large groups that had before passed the city by.  I know they’re not big money makers but, like Falls Park, I’m glad they are there.  I don’t use the bike trail or visit the zoo or most city parks very often but I’m glad they’re here. I don’t ski or snowboard but I’m glad for Great Bear.

Maybe I’ll even say that about the new Events Center some day. But, for now, that thing makes about as much sense to me as those big cement ball planters scattered around downtown Sioux Falls.

See, there I go. Just when I thought I’d been dumbstruck into seasonal serenity.

Thanksgiving 2013

Posted: Saturday, November 23, 2013 at 10:20 am
By: Doug Lund

thanksgiving turkey cover


It’s been a few years since the Lund’s have come up on the family rotation list to host Thanksgiving but it is our turn this year and we’re actually looking forward to it. I am, anyway because I’m not the one who does the serious indoor house chores from the floors, bathrooms and dusting to the tedious task of  cleaning the mini-blinds one mini-blind at a time.  Now, I can hear some of you saying, you could help Linda with the housework, ya big oaf. Well, I have offered..sort of. The thing is, when she goes into deep cleaning mode, our house becomes a bit like a CSI crime scene and I am truly not qualified to lift up the yellow tape and go schlumping around disturbing things. My job is to do the grocery shopping, help cook and serve the Thanksgiving meal and lead the prayer before we eat. She’s happy..I’m happy and, yes, I know, very lucky.

I’m also happy about the deal I got at HyVee; buy a ham at the regular price, get a turkey FREE.  That was over a week ago and I’ve been back to the store a couple of times and a couple hundred dollars since and see the special is still going on with lots of hams and turkeys spotted in people’s grocery carts. Now, most of those turkeys were in the 10 to 12 pound range but I managed to sweet talk the butcher into checking his  freezer in the back for the biggest bird he could find and, sure enough, he came out with  a 14 pounder which is the maximum weight allowed to qualify for the deal. Now, that along with the 8 pound ham, should be enough meat to satisfy the carnivores in our group although we do have three college-age grandsons with the appetites of lumberjacks but the metabolism of hummingbirds so their stomachs are like washboards.

There will be all the traditional foods for our feast and a couple extra features that have become a tradition over the years; our daughter Patty’s veggie casserole, Doug’s escalloped corn, Linda’s wild rice stuffing and, of course, lefse. (Usually store-bought at the last minute in hopes it will be the freshest.)

The last time we hosted the holiday, I bought a 25 pound frozen turkey and, according to instructions, put it in the refrigerator to thaw three days prior to cooking. Well, it was still hard as as a carp on Thanksgiving Eve so Linda and I spent forever taking turns messaging that dadgum carcass under warm water in the kitchen sink  until we finally were able to pull the giblets package out and feel confident we wouldn’t  wind up having to take everybody out for Chinese turkey. Fa Ra Ra Ra Ra Ra.

thanksgiving rockwell

I also learned a long time ago that with a large group of people the Norman Rockwell idealistic view of Thanksgiving dinner with gramma presenting the beautiful browned bird to grampa at the table for carving..just isn’t practical. Unless the old guy is Crocodile Dundee or runs a deli, that bird is going to be ice cold by the time everybody gets a desired slice.  I tried it once and it didn’t take long for my efforts to go from encouragement by family members to muffled snickers to uncontrolled laughter. If you, like me, dread the turkey carving part, try checking youtube on the interweb. There are lots and lots of easy to follow demonstrations. Worked for me last time resulting in less mess, more satisfied customers and more intact leftovers.

So, no carving at the table. In fact, we’ve given in to convenience and serve up our entire Thanksgiving meal cafeteria style just like  a pot luck church picnic. Sure, by the time the last one’s through the line..the first ones are ready for seconds but it’s just the way we roll.

Linda’s mother, Mary, who passed away a year ago last July, was never a big fan of Smorgasbords; much preferring everybody all sit together  at once but as the family grew she realized that wasn’t practical or possible. Part of her compromise, though, was dessert. Mary always provided the most wonderful pies for the feast; Apple and cherry were her specialty but any fruit filling became irresistible with her magic touch and nestled inside those delicious homemade flaky brown crusts. But at both Thanksgiving and Christmas, Mary would hold those pies hostage.  No wolfing down a big dinner, inhaling dessert then going off to watch TV and falling asleep with your mouth open occasionally waking yourself up with a loud snort and then going home. No sir!  She would decide when to release the pies, wanting everyone to at least share that part of the meal together.  I think she also loved to hear the waves of complements coming in unison from all around the house about how terrific they tasted and how relieved they were to finally have at them.

Linda is making a couple pies this year; lemon and chocolate. Others will bring pumpkin but I doubt anybody in the family will attempt apple or cherry. That’s a pretty hard act to follow. I also doubt if we’ll insist that people wait.

I’m not too sure about the quality of the free turkey I got. I did ask the HyVee guy if I should be concerned about “getting what I paid for” but he said he’s had this brand before and couldn’t tell much, if any, difference.  I said, “Put enough turkey gravy on anything and it’ll taste good right?”  Ha, ha ha.

Linda assures me that the bird is thawing nicely and there will be no need for late night warm water baths this year. As for preparation; no brining, no deep fat frying, nothing odd and unusual at our house; just remember to take out the bag of innards (giblets) place him on a rack in a covered roasting pan for the recommended time and let it rest for a while after taking it out of the oven.  Just remember that rare may be fine in steak but not turkey  so I probably tend to over cook the thing but, like I said, gravy covers a lot of sins.

Linda and I send best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving from our little house to yours.